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Food

The Grilled Cheese Invitational Is Calling It Quits

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The Grilled Cheese Truck's Cheesy Mac and Rib at the Grilled Cheese Invitational in 2010 (Photo by foodforfel via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The Grilled Cheese Invitational, that annual orgy of butter and cheese and bread that no venue seems big enough to hold, is calling it quits.

Competition founder Tim Walker announced yesterday that the 2014 event will be the last one.

"We have fought a great battle and we have won," Walker said in a statement posted by Los Angeles Magazine. "We have had a great time doing so. After many years and soooo much cheese, quite simply, it’s time."

It may be hard to remember, but those early invitationals predated L.A.'s current food epoch. Now, simple comfort foods are routinely elevated to gourmet status. But Walker recalls an uphill battle of redefining grilled cheese as something every restaurant must have.

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"We won the war on curds and whey," he told L.A. Magazine. "There are national restaurant chains dedicated to grilled cheese. There's a motorcade of grilled cheese trucks around the country. When we started this, grilled cheese was on the kids' menu and the only people doing events with it were us and Campanile. Now, it's taken its rightful place in the forefront of American sandwiches."

Invitational winners have gone on to own food trucks, open restaurants, even get book deals. The competition has become one of the ways that up-and-coming L.A. chefs have become regional food leaders.

The Grilled Cheese Invitational melts down April 12 at Los Angeles Center Studios in downtown L.A.